November 1, 2017 by Kane Styles.
The dust has settled on what was a feisty encounter on Sunday afternoon. Without doubt, it was a solid showing from Blues. They looked organised, well-drilled and full of energy which as a fan, is exactly what you want and expect from your side on an occasion like Birmingham City vs Aston Villa. Blues had the best chance to win the game; Jota, who was making his St. Andrews debut, flicked the ball past James Chester but his effort flew over the bar with only Sam Johnstone to beat.
Villa on the other hand, came close on two occasions; Keinan Davis found himself in space but his left-footed strike cannoned off the crossbar and was well cleared. The second scare for Blues was when Jonathan Kodjia worked his way into the 18-yard-box; the Ivorian turned both Colin and Morrison before he unleashed a curling effort which again bounced off the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
The star men:
Cheick Ndoye looked fired-up and ready for battle, he worked tirelessly in the middle of the park and prior to the introduction of Mile Jedinak he was bossing the midfield. Ndoye’ performances are getting better and better, he is finally looking more settled and is beginning to make a serious contribution to Blues’ play. He could have even got himself on the score sheet, his giant leap above James Chester was headed straight at Johnstone, if he had directed his effort anywhere but where he did then he would have gave Blues a 1-0 advantage. It was arguably his best performance yet.
Jonathan Grounds didn’t look in a spot of bother all game. One of Aston Villa’ best and most consistent performers this season; Albert Adomah, was barely given a kick. Grounds looked composed, focused and quite frankly fantastic. His positioning and awareness was impeccable, I can’t recall a game where he looked as established and accomplished as what he was Sunday. Hopefully we’ll be treated to performances like that from him more regularly.
For me, Ndoye and Grounds were Blues’ two best players on the day, t’s hard to name a player who didn’t have a good game. Yet, Sam Gallagher could have been used more efficiently after he replaced the injured Isaac Vassell. Cotterill opted to put Che Adams as the main striker and it could be argued that Blues would have benefitted more if he had been placed on the left. That way, Blues could have used Gallagher as the main striker and would have had more of an outlet to aim for with his height. It was hard for Gallagher to get into the game and Adams was sometimes isolated.
The derby has come and gone now though, Blues must firstly steer clear of the relegation places and begin to make significant progress up the league table. I can only see the side getting better from here on in, Cotterill has near enough stuck with the same team over the past three games and the familiarity will be of benefit.
The Bees have struggled against Blues since their arrival in the championship three seasons ago; they’ve lost four, won one and drew one. The last time the two sides met ended with Brentford winning 3-1 at St. Andrews back when Gianfranco Zola was in charge.
Under the management of Villa fan and former Walsall manager, Dean Smith, Brentford haven’t been beaten in their last seven championship encounters.
It’ll be an interesting night for Harlee Dean, Jota and Maxime Colin, the trio could all feature against their former club for the first time. Jota and Colin are likely to retain their place in the team after starting against Villa, Michael Morrison and Marc Roberts appears to be Cotterill’s favoured partnership so it’s unlikely Harlee Dean will start.
Brentford midfielder Nico Yennaris is unlikely to feature after picking up a knock during their 3-2 win over Preston last time out, former West Brom youngster Romaine Sawyers could start. The Bees’ top scorer, Ollie Watkins, is set to start fresh from scoring the decisive goal in the Preston the game, Blues must be wary of his pace and eye for goal.
Isaac Vassell will be out for the foreseeable future, he sustained a rupture in his knee during the Villa game which is a massive blow for the team and his progress. Cotterill may start Che Adams as Blues’ main striker, which could mean Maghoma, or Boga may be handed a starting place.